As recent as 2012 the Helmeted Hornbill was listed as Near Threatened, but in 2015 it was uplisted to Critically Endangered.
They are threatened by hunting pressure fuelled by the value placed on their red casque, called ‘hornbill ivory’ or ‘red ivory’, in the illegal wildlife trade. Like most hornbills this species possesses a bony ‘casque’ which protrudes from the top of its bill. Despite its heavy-looking appearance this structure is quite light being made of thin, hollow bone cells, though it accounts for around 11% of the bird’s 3kg weight. Their casques are highly valued ornamentally, often being carved decoratively, as well as for use in traditional medicine. The trade is thought to be managed by international organised crime, proving the international demand for this species, both of which make it difficult to fully tackle. Expanding agriculture and commercial logging is putting even further pressure on this Critically Endangered species.
- Order: Bucerotiformes
- Family: Bucerotidae
- Population: Unknown
- Trend: decreasing
- Size: 110-120 cm
- Weight: 3kg
This species is endemic to the Sundaic lowlands. Found through south Tenasserim, Myanmar, peninsular Thailand, Sabah, Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, Kalimantan and Sumatra, Indonesia and Brunei.
Habitat and Ecology
They inhabit primary semi-evergreen and evergreen lowland forest, up to 1,500m above sea level. They can persist in selectively logged forests. They are omnivores; feeding on fruits, especially figs, small animals, such as snakes, birds and squirrels. They are known to nest in natural holes in large trees.